Corktone Tile - A galaxy of brown.

Until thirty minutes ago, I'd never heard of cork flooring. Cork always seemed like a squishy, crumbly sort of stuff that I'd never in a million years put on a floor that I expect to use more than a week

But apparently, it's done. Also apparently, cork flooring was to be envied and imitated. This ad uses phrases like "luxury cork" and "warm cork color", which sound pretty funny. I'd never attached "luxury" to the word "cork", but I suppose if you define something as being luxurious, you're talking about something delicate and hard to take care of. Well, that's a cork floor.

According to Some Guys Who Care a Lot About Cork Floors (SGWCLACF), keep the sun off of it. Don't let chairs or other furniture scoot across it. Don't use a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar. Don't get it wet. Rearrange your furniture often to keep it from fading. What the hell? All these rules imply that cork is a flooring material only slightly more durable than ham. "Try to rearrange your furniture often so that your new ham floor doesn't get too 'denty'. To keep your ham tiles looking their hammiest, don't walk on them or allow coyotes to gnaw upon them."

I'd imagine that cork would be nice and cushy to walk on, but the first thing I'd do is look down and go "Is this cork? Jeez. I'll have to be careful not to gouge it. I'll stand over here on this nice, durable piece of ham just to be safe."

Cork is very weird and comes from trees. Specifically, the cork oak. Cork grows in the form of bark, and the cork can be stripped from the trunk of the adult oak every 9 to 12 years or so without harming the tree. Cork can be recycled as granulated cork, which explains why some cork looks like that.

Anyway, this is another cool looking basement from the past. Actually, the curtains tell me that this is a living room, which is strange. The yellow brick and vinyl baseboard say "basement" to me. That super mod fireplace is so great I may weep. When I was looking for a house, I found one with a really great fireplace like this in the living room, but the neighborhood would have necessitated the purchase of a grenade launcher, which isn't so bad, but just like printers, the refills are where they really get you. So, I had to look in a less grenade-inducing area.

The only other strong impression I have of cork as an interior design element is The Dresden restaurant and lounge, in Hollywood, CA, which has been in the same place with the same staff, with the same interior since 1954. The lounge area at The Dresden is lined with offset panels of cork, which are very mod and also control ugly sound reflections.

I spent a year living in L.A., after StarToons went kablooey. In that year, I looked for cartoon work, tried to put down roots by failing to date a girl I really liked, and worked as a sign man to pay bills. Mostly, my experience in California was pretty unpleasant, due to one thing and another, but I did find the one and only bar that ever felt like home to me: The Dresden. It was featured prominently in Swingers, the John Favreau film from 1996. In that movie, the house band was a man and wife team called Marty and Elayne. They are the real house band at the Dresden, and I managed to get their attention one night by requesting Quiet Village, by Martin Denny. Mostly, people request things like Stardust and Fly Me to the Moon, and  When I asked for Quiet Village, Marty looked at me strangely and asked if I was old enough to know that song. They hadn't played it in years, he said. They went into Quiet Village with gusto, turning it into a long, improvised jungle jam that got huge applause. It was the best five dollars I spent in California. When I gave up on LA and came back to Chicago, the only thing I knew I'd miss was The Dresden.

Hm. I kind of want some cork in my basement now.

P.S. The Dresden Files is also a damn good series of fantasy/mystery books by Jim butcher, available in paper from all the normal places and audio download from Audible. Recommended!


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